When I began Baumwollarchives.com, I hoped that I might get 2,000 people to come and see all my stuff, and my interests. Its hard for me to express how I feel. From the beginning of my life, I had many issues. My folks always kept me close. I didn’t go out at night until I was 19.
I was a sickly baby unable to come home for over 3 months due to the fact that I could not eat the foods that babies were given . My parents were told I was Celiac, and had to eat very special. One of my earliest memories is my older brother teasing me and eating in front of me. I have been sick all my life with this.
At 5 years old, on South Beach in Miami, where my grandfather owned hotels, I almost drowned. One summers day, my father saved me. I had my first out of body experience.
My other two times were when I lived with Ellen Burstyn. One time I got out of her boat as we watched the 1776-1976 Bicentenial. I was shy and would not go to the bathroom over the boat. I got in the Hudson river and it took me for a ride. I have never been the same. It was a wild out of body experience. The other time was in her home, the Stone Mansion in Sneden’s Landing when the part of the mansion, my living quarters, caught on fire. The fire was coming from the kitchen underneath me. Ellen Burstyn and Bill Smith, both screaming from outside, came to my rescue and saved me.
Ellen Burstyn’s Stone House – Snedens Landing – New York – 1975
I would live in this house for 3 and half years. The first 6 months I lived there alone as it was undergoing restoration. Ellen Burstyn lived down the hill in the Old Ferry House while the restoration was being done. She had just won the Tony Award for the play “Same Time Next Year” and the Oscar for the film “Alice dosn’t Live Here Any More”.
I always had great difficulty getting out what was in my head. I did not get out of high school until I was 19. I had failed grades and was kept back. I even failed kindergarden. I was always in the special classes. Along with my issues of not liking to be touched, I was very very quiet and was super sensitive. I could not handle loud noises. I had great difficulty with my speech. I was unable to see words in my head. I found it very hard to pronounce words which caused me to stutter. I also had a severe lisp. I was called names all my life. I was always in my own world and I preferred to be by myself. My parents hoped that I would find my way.
I’ve realize if I have gone this far in telling who I truely am, I must not try to still hide. My father was a good man. He always made sure that we had what ever we needed. Never were we frightened of not having a home or food or anything that we really wanted. But like all people he was flawed. My mother and him had their problems. At 11 years old, I began being molested by my fathers’ friends son who was 25 years old at the time. This went on for two years as we moved around the country from New York to Florida and then to California. It began as we were heading to California. He told me he would hurt my famly if I said any thing. The level of deprivation and dispair I had was overwhelming, to say nothing of what it did to my self esteeem and self worth. It has taken me a lifetime to find my words and myself and to realize that others had to have known, yet said nothing. For innocence to be lost is a terrible thing, for one can never get it back. By sharing this with you, I am freeing myself from all the demons that we as people hide in the shadows of our lives. I hope you all understand how difficult it is to share, for there is always fear of what will you think.
By the time I was in my late twenties, through new psychological advances that began to understand about learning and psychological disorders starting in childhood, I discovered that I was dyslexic, along with a form of Austim. My family was the type of family that had hard times with me for I did not fit in and that seemed to always seem to find its way towards me. They were always trying to change me to fit in. My clothes; my socks, how I looked at my nails, my hair; even how I sat. Nothing I could do would seem to make them proud.
My mother would say to me when we would all be going out as a famly, “You dont really want to go”. She prefered me to stay home. She was ashamed of who I really was. I had gone threw my life as we all do with what was given to us.
I was blessed with many great teachers and mentors; Ellen Burstyn, Joseph Campbell, Dominic Dunne; and many others. What was wild was that they each had found their way. This was one of the gifts, for I yearned to grow and as I lived they came in, each showing me the power of knowledge. With my questions, they helped me find the answers. My schooling came from life.
I have been searching my whole life for knowlege and growth. I have always wanted to know more of who I was and where I came from. All I was ever told was we were from Belgium. When I began my blog, it came from wanting to share all that I had saved about my family and our time in America. It began all with the times in Edgemere Long Island New York in the early part of the 20th century. But I wanted to know more. I had read a book by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, the first openly gay orthodox rabbi, telling a story about a very old man in Poland about how gay jewish men were treated when they went to synagogue, they were able to come but had to sit in the back. I had found out by then that my famly was not from Belgium like we were told. We were from Wasaw Poland, I have since discovered as far back as 1720. I have found many of their graves and some of their life stories. I was looking for other gay men in my line. My famly have married each other for 300 years; cousin to couisn. The great grandmother I am named after Bella Pressman Baumwoll was first cousin to my great grandfather. So if there were men in my line that didn’t marry surely they might have been gay. This is now part of my journey.
Not until the computer came along was I able, with the help of my partner of 34 years Andrew Reach, to find my way. It has been like coming home. My brain is free finally and its all coming out. I’ve always been a person who thinks outside the box. My blog has traveled all over the world. My father would be so happy and proud of me. When he was very ill just before his passing, He had said to my mom, He’s a late bloomer. I know he watches. He like everyone else had to see. I always had to do it my way and could not handle any one trying to control me.
Never give up, Keep pushing. Trust your feelings. We all are on our own paths. Life is all about solutions, faith and most of all, love.
Thanks to all of you worldwide who have come to visit Baumwollarchives.com and the world of an autodidact. Remember, life really is all a dream. What you think and feel inside, comes out. To be who you are takes courage and stamina. Each decision takes you to the next. Never let any one put you last, we are all our own souls . We’re here for a purpose that we are not able to really know. Follow who you are. I wish you all peace. We are all sparks of God. No matter what, keep going.
1 981 Andrew and I , We realize we would never be apart and we never have. He has been my greatest teacher, He has shown me love and what love is.
Some Of My Teachers
Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin